Can and Should the United States Preserve a Military Capability for Revolutionary Conflict?

by Hans Heymann, William W. Whitson

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An examination of the probable nature of revolutionary conflict in the 1970s, its threat to U.S. interests, the appropriate U.S. response, and the organizational changes necessary if a minimal U.S. military counterinsurgency capability is to be maintained. Ethnic-separatist and radical-nationalist rebellions are most likely in the 1970s, but will not necessarily threaten U.S. interests. However, an internal revolt in danger of becoming an issue of strategic concern may require a limited U.S. response to deter it. To minimize the possibility of escalating its assistance, the United States should sharply distinguish between two kinds of response — internal security assistance (training and advice) and direct military intervention — and preserve a specialized capability for only the former. Moreover, such U.S. assistance should be (1) small, stressing high-quality rather than high-quantity contributions; (2) coordinated with an equally specialized civilian effort; and (3) focused primarily on the host country's authority structure.

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